Ellsworth B-1 aircrews complete Combat Hammer exercise
By Senior Airman Alystria Maurer, 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 26, 2014
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- B-1 aircrews from the 34th Bomb Squadron recently completed an exercise that tested their ability to employ laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions against moving targets.
The 34th BS "Thunderbirds" employed eight GBU-31 and four GBU-54 laser JDAMs against targets at the Eglin Test and Training Complex Range on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., as part of the Air Force's air to ground Weapon System Evaluation Program known as Combat Hammer.
"Combat Hammer evaluates everything from how we build our munitions to how we store and employ them," said Lt. Col. Seth Graham, 34th BS commander. "This exercise gives our aircrews an opportunity to train with these weapons and hone their skills."
The goal of the exercise was to evaluate the effectiveness, maintainability, suitability and accuracy of precision guided munitions and other advanced air to ground weapons. The entire process of weapons handling was evaluated from start to finish during Combat Hammer.
Graham said this exercise focused on the cradle-to-grave evaluation for the LJDAM, a 500-pound, dual-mode guided weapon.
Equipped with a laser seeker, which aids in its ability to demonstrate outstanding accuracy, the LJDAM can be employed to engage stationary and moving targets on the ground.
"This evaluation highlights the B-1 capabilities," said Capt. Chad Nishizuka, 34th BS chief of weapons and tactics. "The fact that we can represent the B-1 community in this capacity is a significant compliment to the men and women who work day and night to keep the B-1 at the tip of the spear."
Graham added the Combat Hammer team developed scenarios during the exercise that closely replicated combat conditions, including surface-to-air threats, mobile maneuvering surface targets, and fast attack craft swarm tactics.
"Evaluators will be able to retrieve data from the telemetry kits on the weapons and build a picture of how the weapon was or was not affected in various scenarios," Nishizuka said. "That data is invaluable in refining and adjusting our training plans."
Ellsworth is home to two of the nation's three B-1 combat squadrons and provides the majority of support for deployment taskings involving the B-1. Since 2007, Ellsworth B-1s have deployed 12 of every 18 months in support of missions in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, conducting missions to rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against adversaries.
Graham added that Ellsworth Airmen worked diligently throughout the exercise to ensure the success of every aspect of operations.
"We were running operations around the clock to make the exercise possible," Graham said. "It took everyone, from those who ran the tower and ensured that runways were clear, to the Airmen who fed all those participating in the evaluation. The successful execution of Combat Hammer was a total team effort."